Friday, May 26, 2017

President's budget proposes big cuts to SNAP and shifts costs to states


President Trump’s 2018 budget proposes to cut SNAP by more than $193 billion over the next 10 years — a more than 25% cut. The biggest portion of the cuts--$116 billion-- comes from a new requirement for states to pay for 25% of SNAP benefits (starting at 10% in 2020 and increasing to an average state share of 25% by 2023).  Such a cost shift would have significant consequences for states’ budgets.

As a part of the cost shift to states, USDA would let states cut benefit levels as a cost management tool. This means that a state’s ability to contribute to the cost of SNAP could drive the level of benefits available to its poor households.

SNAP law already restricts benefits to three months out of every 36-month period for people not raising minor children unless they are working 20 hours per week. States can waive the time limit in areas with persistently high unemployment. The President’s budget would restrict time limit waivers to areas with at least 10% unemployment. The proposal would mean that 1 million poor unemployed individuals would lose access to food assistance in an average month.  

SNAP currently allows states to raise SNAP’s gross income eligibility cutoff of 130% of the poverty line ($2,200 per month for a family of three) to a higher level. The President’s budget would eliminate this option, which provides food assistance to an estimated 1 million households in an average month.  Eliminating the option also ends states’ ability to ease the federal asset limit of $2,250 (or $3,250 for households with an elderly or disabled member), thereby allowing households with savings above the federal limit  to participate.  

The budget proposes to terminate SNAP’s minimum monthly benefit of $16 for households of one or two people, which primarily goes to low-income seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for a benefit of $15 or less.  Almost 2 million people would lose SNAP benefits as a result of this provision.  The President’s budget would cap additional benefits based on household size at families of six, cutting benefits to many families with several children or who live with grandparents and other family members.

Trump’s proposal also completely eliminates funding for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, a serious loss for the North Country. And, by eliminating the Social Services and Community Development Block Grants, President Trump’s budget would also severely cut federal funding for Meals on Wheels.

Sources: Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 5/23/17, SNAP Cuts; Center for American Progress, 5/23/17, More Safety Net Cuts